A reader writes in about anti-Semitism. Plus, the Planned Parenthood defunding.
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Today’s read: 7 minutes.
Anti-Semitism amongst “The Squad,” the Planned Parenthood news and lots of interesting numbers to think about.
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A graph that caught my eye.
What D.C. is talking about.
Planned Parenthood. The family planning services organization says it is withdrawing from Title X, a federal program that funds family planning clinics for low-income Americans. Their decision comes after the Trump administration announced a new rule that would forbid clinics who offer abortion referrals from getting Title X money. In short, Planned Parenthood decided it would keep referring its patients to doctors that perform abortions but lose the Title X funding. That means it is out about $60 million it gets through the federal program. Planned Parenthood uses to that money to offer 1.5 million low-income women services like birth control, pregnancy tests, and screenings for STDs through Title X.
What Democrats are saying.
This is going to hurt women. A lot of them. In some states, like Utah and Minnesota, Planned Parenthood is the only place that receives Title X funds and serves upwards of 90 percent of the low-income women. On the whole, 40 percent of Title X patients are covered by Planned Parenthood. If Republicans really wanted to stop abortions, they would be funding a place like Planned Parenthood that gives people access to birth control and sexual education for a very low cost or — in some cases — totally free. Also, Planned Parenthood does a lot more than provide abortions. Women can get cancer screenings, STD tests and medical advice at clinics. We know what happens when clinics like this are shut down: in Indiana, after Pence defunded Planned Parenthood, HIV rates went up and maternal outcomes went down. In rural communities, many of which voted for Trump, Planned Parenthood is the only place to get low-cost reproductive care — which means hundreds of thousands of people are about to have a really hard time finding family planning services.
What Republicans are saying.
Planned Parenthood’s decision proves they are nothing more than an “abortion factory.” If the organization cared about real women’s health care, they would have stopped referring women for abortions and kept the millions of dollars to fund women’s health services. Instead, they opted to pull out — because, like Republicans have been saying for years, abortion is a big priority of theirs. This is a big win for pro-life Republicans who have been waiting for an administration like Trump’s to come along and stand up for the rights of the unborn. And, by the way, they’re not close to done. Matt Walsh, a Christian conservative writer, put it like this:
Nobody is reading this looking to have their mind changed on abortion. If you already consider yourself pro-choice or pro-life, I doubt what I’m going to say will change anything. However, the simple fact of this news is that it’s going to hurt America’s most vulnerable. Take abortion out of the picture, just for a moment, and consider these numbers: Between 2016 and 2017, Planned Parenthood diagnosed 240,489 STIs. 70,193 women had their cancer or abnormalities detected. And, even with abortion in the picture, 1.8 million women received reversible contraceptives from Planned Parenthood.
We know that sexual education and birth control reduce the number of abortions. We also know that access to birth control does more to reduce abortion rates than restrictive laws (I know some people think Vox is a left-wing rag, but this article is a good explainer of how we know this). We also know that while access to abortion clinics can be a barrier to women getting abortions, most women who need or want abortions will find a way to terminate their pregnancies. No matter how you try to cut this pie, in my estimation, Planned Parenthood has a track record for improving women’s health care, reducing the number of abortions and — if a woman is going to get an abortion — offering that care in a safe and affordable way. Defunding it is dangerous water to be swimming in.
P.S. If you do have an open or inquisitive mind, the best read I’ve ever come across on abortion, and being pro-choice or pro-life, is from Coleman Hughes, a conservative writer. You can read that here.
Yesterday, I told you about the CEOs who signed a new statement re-defining what a corporation’s goals were — and focusing more on taking care of employees instead of shareholders. I was looking through the signatories last night and noticed something funny… Apple CEO Tim Cook’s signature. It just struck me as… bizarre.
Your questions, answered.
Why do Democrats, specifically “the squad,” seem to hate Jews?
- Mike, Deerfield Beach, Florida.
Hey Mike, thanks for this question. As a Jewish reporter, it’s one that hits close to home. I think there are two reasons that Democrats, specifically the squad, seem to “hate Jews.” I’ll elaborate on both.
Answer #1: Because they’ve made some comments that can easily be interpreted as anti-Semitic. Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley are considered members of “the squad.” Omar and Tlaib, in particular, have been blasted for their comments criticizing Israel or using anti-Semitic tropes. Omar once tweeted that Israel was “hypnotizing the world” and also said some members of Congress and their support of Israel was “all about the Benjamins.” Both play on classic anti-Semitic slurs about Jews: they control the media and powerful political entities and they are using their money to influence the world in a negative way.
Tlaib’s track record is a bit more complex. She hasn’t made the kinds of public comments or posts that Omar has (besides the questionable cartoon she shared on Instagram, which was featured in Tangle yesterday). Instead, it’s about the company she keeps: her planned trip to Israel was going to be organized by Miftah, a nonprofit organization that most newspapers described innocently as headed by a Palestinian peace negotiator. But, as David French explored, Miftah has a pretty sketchy history that includes publishing an American neo-Nazi piece about the Jew-controlled media (Miftah later apologized), a blog post that described a terrorist who killed 13 Israeli children as a hero, and another post describing a female suicide bomber as “the beginning of a string of Palestinian women dedicated to sacrificing their lives for the cause.” All of this has been ignored by mainstream media outlets, and French did a commendable job proving that. There are layers and layers to a sordid history around Miftah that’s only now being pulled back, and Omar’s association is not a good look. It’s obvious why conservative Jews, and some Democrats too, have elevated these associations and comments as proof the Democratic lawmakers are anti-Semites.
Answer #2: It seems like they hate Jews because that’s what the conservative media ecosystem wants you to think. I’m not going to sit here and pretend to know what is in Omar and Tlaib’s heart because I think the jury is still out. But, I can tell you this: lots and lots of the comments they’ve been lambasted for are comments plenty of liberal, American Jews make regularly. Omar and Tlaib clearly have a disdain for the Israeli government, but so do lots of American Jews. That doesn’t make them anti-Semites. The violence between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East goes back thousands of years, and each side can point to an ungodly number of atrocities and war crimes that the other side has committed. Omar and Tlaib are clear in that they believe the current state of Israel is occupying Palestinian land, keeping Palestinians in an open air prison and violently punishing innocent Palestinians throughout the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. And, to be frank, they have some valid points. They also tell some lies about Israel that are commonplace in today’s political discourse.
But each time Omar or Tlaib lob these criticisms, lots of the conservative media distorts them in an effort to make them appear as insidious as possible. What’s clear to me is that a lot of the people accusing Tlaib and Omar of being anti-Semites are, themselves, Islamophobic. That obvious detail should not be swept under the rug.
I could write a book on the differences between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments, and there are plenty of books on the history between Israel and Palestine. But let’s just say that members of the squad have some very concerning associations, have made undeniable use of anti-Semitic tropes, and are also being grossly mischaracterized by a giant, dishonest, right-wing media machine which was going to hate them regardless of how they felt about Jews — simply because they are far-left Muslim politicians.
P.S. Most Jewish politicians are Democrats. Of the nine Jews in the Senate, eight are Democrats and one — Bernie Sanders — is an independent (but running for POTUS as a Democrat and clearly a liberal). In the House, there are 27 Jews. 25 are Democrats and two are Republicans.
P.P.S. Trump chimed in while I was writing this newsletter.
A story that matters.
Much of President Trump’s policy could be undone if he doesn’t win a second term, Axios reports. Trumpism isn’t going anywhere soon, but the legislative wins he’s had are mostly things a Democratic president could reverse in 2020, much like Trump has been trying to undo President Barack Obama’s executive actions. If Trump were to lose re-election, his greatest legacy would be pushing the federal courts to the right with dozens of appointments of conservative judges. But, besides the major tax cut passed last year, Axios thinks the rest of his legislative agenda would be reversed by a new Democratic president. You can read more here.
Some cop news.
Yesterday, Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner with a chokehold in 2014, was fired. That’s comes shortly after Pantaleo was acquitted of murder charges. In California, a new law was passed that narrows the moments officers can use deadly force to instances when they believe it’s “necessary.” If investigators find out an officer used lethal force with other options available, they could face disciplinary actions or criminal charges. It’s being called the strictest anti-deadly force law in America. Here’s the video that started it all:
Some very, very interesting numbers.
Have a nice day.
In the wake of protests in Hong Kong, the Chinese government asked Cathay Pacific’s former CEO, head of the country’s top airline, to send over a list employees who had taken part in the protests. Instead of sending over a list of his employees who protested, which would have endangered their jobs and perhaps their lives, Rupert Hogg sent over one name: his own. Shortly before the request came through, Hogg had to step down under pressure from Beijing. Now, he’s being lauded for not turning on his employees. Read more here.